I didn’t keep track of when I shopped for incense (my family is largely uninterested in that portion of the trip), but I kept track of where I shopped, for my own and your future reference. My shopping adventure is thus organized by place and not chronologically.

Our hotel was a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station. I highly recommend the hotel, if you can afford it or find a sweet deal like we did. (Drop me an email if you want to know more. Click on “Contact” above.) As such, it was also a five-minute-or-so walk from five different department stores of varying calibers.

I went shopping armed with a list of incenses, their reviews, and their name in kanji, as well as a document with various incense ingredients and manufacturers in kanji. (I plan to post the latter as soon as I’ve cleaned it up.) I can read hiragana and katakana, and planned on using the ask-and-point method, but as with the phrasebook we brought, I didn’t use it too much for that purpose.

As a shopping and general travel note, I would highly recommend learning the kana.

Odakyu –  The first day, I wanted to get right out and explore the department stores so the incense acquistion could commence. Odakyu is a department store attached to Shinjuku Station. The entrance is to the west (to the left) if you’re approaching the south entrance of the station. I wouldn’t really recommend this store if you’re looking for incense. The incense counter is waaay in the back of the eighth floor, in the Buddhist altar supplies department in Housewares. It was across from the small Toy department. The ambiance was rather creepy to me, but I’m not sure why. I felt unaccountably nervous there. That said, they stocked Baieido incenses in several sizes.

Lumine 2 – The department store Lumine has several locations, two of which are attached to Shinjuku Station as well. If you enter the South Entrance, turn right past the commuter train ticket machines and the “green window” (the office that sells specialized and bullet train tickets) and you will enter Lumine 2. I failed to write down the names of shops in here. To the left after you’ve entered is a shop selling cosmetics of all sorts. For your olfactory pleasure, there is a large display of fragrances just past this store. Ingeniously, all of the fragrances available (I estimate about 100!) are available for sampling by smelling the contents of an array of labelled plastic jars. We sampled the “24” colognes before moving on.  Jack Bauer never smelled so good!
In terms of edible smells, if you continue walking past the cosmetics store, there’s a fabulous-looking French style bakery serving soups and breads, and an adorable/odorable Gothic-styled coffeeshop further on, to the left.

Keio Part I – We visited Keio to scope out yet another Households department.  Circling the perimeter of the sixth floor, we saw bolts of fabric, kimono and yukata and all the trimmings you’d want, jewelry, eyewear, lovely gifty stuff, and an arts department (which I thought was the incense department–but it wasn’t).  I returned here later in the week, to scope out the actual incense counter (after discovering that it existed).

Part II to come: Things heat up when I actually find stuff to buy!

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